Fields Elects to Red Shirt





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It's rare when a disappointing loss can actually be a net gain, but that may end up the case with Marcus Fields.

The senior running back separated his right shoulder in the Cal football team's opening game against Utah and has elected to redshirt this season.

"My shoulder just didn't heal as soon as I anticipated," Fields said. "I could have returned this season, I'm just not exactly sure when."

Next year, Fields will come back to an offense that will return virtually every key component.

"It's hard for me to look that far ahead, because we're right in the middle of our season," Cal head coach Tom Holmoe said. "But his skills and leadership will be a big factor for our team next season."

But those who are looking ahead can point to Saturday's offensive outburst against UCLA as a possible preview of things to come.

Quarterback Kyle Boller, tailback Joe Igber, wide receiver Derek Swafford and offensive lineman Scott Tercero will be in their junior year in 2001, and wide receivers Geoff McArthur and Chase Lyman will only be sophomores.

Add to that an offensive line that will only lose one opening-day starter, and the offensive malaise that has been plaguing Memorial Stadium for the past couple of years may be cured.

Despite this promising prospect, Fields is keeping his focus on the present, even though the only time he suits up will be for practice.

"Right now I'm concentrating on finishing this season and going up to play Washington this week," Fields said. "I still feel I can contribute to the team as a sort of player-coach."

Fields was slated to be an integral part of the Bears' offense this season and was the undisputed starter at the newly added H-back position.

Cal implemented the H-back partly to get Fields more involved in the offense because both his size and Cal's personnel left him without a secure spot in the starting lineup. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Fields is bigger than the typical tailback but also too small to play tight end or fullback.

"I've played a lot of different roles on this team," Fields said. "But I've always said that I'll do whatever it takes to help the team win."

Filling in for Fields this season is junior Keala Keanaaina, who has been one of the most sure-handed pass-catchers on the team.

Fields spent most of his career at tailback and was Cal's leading rusher in 1998, his sophomore year. The Stockton, Calif., native gained 734 yards that year, and had a career-high 140 yards against Oklahoma.

Last season was a bit of a disappointment for Fields, who was shuffled between running back and receiver because of injuries to that unit and the emergence of tailback Joe Igber.

Academically, Fields could have graduated this spring or summer, but he said that he will postpone his graduation until the 2001 fall semester, when he hopes to earn a degree in American Studies with an emphasis in education.

"Marcus wanted to finish his Cal career the right way," Holmoe said. "This will give him that opportunity."

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